Duke Blue Devils Not so Lucky In Upset Loss to Virginia Tech


All season long, the Duke Blue Devils have been one of the most fortunate teams in college football. They escaped by not turning the ball over against Georgia Tech and thanks to a missed field goal by Pittsburgh.

Part of that was great coaching by David Cutcliffe of an undermanned team. The other part was lots of luck that magically could have kept this team in the College Football Playoff conversation.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech was the most unlucky team in college football. After a huge win against Ohio State, the Hokies became a turnover machine and gave games away to Georgia Tech and East Carolina.

The combination of the two was obviously going to result in a Duke win right? Wrong.

This time, the mistakes were all made by Duke, and Virginia Tech played a very efficient game.

Duke was the one with two missed field goals by Ross Martin while Joey Slye made his only field goal for Virginia Tech. Duke was the one who had 3 turnovers despite the Blue Devils out-gaining the Hokies in total yards 326-293.

But perhaps most impressive was when the luck appeared to be back on Duke’s side, and they couldn’t capitalize.

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Late in the game, with Virginia Tech up 17-16, the Hokies inexplicably called a fake punt on 4th and 18 despite the fact that their defense had dominated Duke all day. That gave Duke the ball around midfield, and then came a personal foul penalty by the Virginia Tech defense.

That set up Duke in perfect position, and within a few plays they were in field goal range. But Anthony Boone and Jamison Crowder couldn’t do enough to get these guys closer than a 40-yarder. No matter. Martin was perfect all year before Saturday, and his first miss Saturday was one beyond 50 yards.

Surely he would nail this kick.

But this time, it was wide left, and the Football Gods reversed their blessings. Duke had one last chance after using all three timeouts, but Boone couldn’t do anything.

Going back to the beginning of the game, a Martin Field Goal and touchdown run by Josh Snead to give Duke a 10-0 first quarter lead made it certain that the Blue Devils wouldn’t even need a lucky escape this time.

But as unlikely as the ending was, so was the rest of the game.

Michael Brewer connected with Isaiah Ford for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10-7, but with two field goals by Martin in the third quarter, Duke had a 16-7 lead. It seemed inconceivable that Virginia Tech would be able to come back.

But after a field goal by Slye at the end of the quarter, Virginia Tech got the ball back in the fourth, and Brewer connected again with Bucky Hodges for a 15-yard touchdown that ended up being the difference, as the Hokies took a 17-16 lead and held on.

This was everything different from what we would expect. We already talked about the mistakes. For Virginia Tech to come back in that form this year was also unlikely.

And Brewer only had 138 yards, but he also had 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Hey, he didn’t lose the game and managed to make plays.

Now, Duke is definitely out of the playoff picture, although they were barely in it before. Also, they don’t have the ACC Coastal locked up anymore. They still have a case to be in the Top 25 thanks to that Georgia Tech win.

But the Virginia Tech loss is a bad look.

This is obviously an under-manned team, but great coaching and fundamentals keep helping them. Saturday, the fundamental mistakes were made by Duke. And they weren’t good enough to overcome them Saturday.